Monday, February 28, 2011

Human landscapes

The photos of developments in Florida is fascinating. It tells such a nuanced story of human nature and our follies...

Green Islands gets the green light

We won funding to prototype our Green Islands project -- a solar-powered battery charging system. $7,500 to build it. I am so stoked. What an amazing opportunity to be the project leader on a promising idea for rural electrification. Connections with international NGOs are already materializing. This project is for real.

Hobbit homes and "green" houses.

Hobbits do exist:

In my Energy Efficient Buildings class, we're designing a house for Portland, OR. In playing with the economics of new construction, there's a clear optimization point for energy efficiency (reducing energy costs) v. increased capital costs. My thought: is there a good way to be a sneaky environmentalist and promote the energy reductions?

It really draws attention to the complex notion of "green." Our house is less efficient than a well-designed home in Denver, but it demands less energy. Which one is "greener?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Product guide to the conscientious consumer


Highly recommended for the mindful consumer. They are legit.

Sustainable craziness

In reading about smart (sub)urban planning, I read this passage that recounts the letter from a Utah resident written in opposition to a new neighboring development with anti-sprawl design. (From Suburban Nation, p. 193)

[The planner] states, with deliberate intent to deceive, that "The lives of kids are enriched with narrow streets; kids are everywhere, they can play in the streets and alleys." Street play is mindful of tenements in the big eastern cities, where yards are absent. When kids are not in your yard, but are away from your supervision and out where kids govern, the gang culture prevails. Might and fear will rule the street. We will experience the drive-by shootings that are gang-member initiations. Children away from home are far more susceptible to being kidnapped, daughters and sons to being attacked and raped at the playground some blocks away.

And this is why I worry for humanity. The density of crazy in this letter is simply staggering. Evidently, this sound argument is what holds back smart urban planning. (This last statement isn't true, but it's sad that such inane vitriol can delay a project in the first place.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

ZEH Resources, Paralyzing Thoughts There's so many resources on this site it's a little mind-boggling.

I struggle with this overwhelming feeling of responsibility, that it's my duty to save the world. This is an unproductive thought: trying to figure out how to best influence the world is a truly paralyzing endeavor. It's best to find something I enjoy and just go with it. The problem is that I enjoy so many areas, mostly because they all have to do with sustainability.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sustainable development

Two things...

This: Three poverty eradication myths

And this: Extreme affordability meets civil construction

The Triple Bottom Line

Each week in our Sustainable Development Negotiations class, we write a journal entry reflecting upon the discussions and question prompts for that week. After reading an article on the triple bottom line, where they use PepsiCo as an example, I wrote this response. In short: I am shocked to discover that PepsiCo has a respectable record of pursuing sustainability goals.